Most of the time, life seems to go out of its way to make things difficult for you. It keeps bombarding you with shit that appears designed to get in your way and prevent you from achieving whatever you want to most. The past two weeks have mostly been like that. A few great things happened – like my niece was born, which is possibly the best thing ever – but the day-to-day crap still managed to drive me to levels of frustration and despair that I haven’t experienced in a long time, and inevitably these things seeped into my writing life.
Towards the end of the week, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed by just… everything. Work seems like it will never get bearable, and all these things that I want to and should be writing on felt impossible, suddenly. It was one of those times where you just think… How did I ever think I could do this? What is even the point of continuing to try? It’s not rare for me to feel like this – it’s not rare for any writer – but this week it was particularly heavy. It felt like something was beginning to fade away inside, that maybe by letting myself get derailed and thrown by all these real-world obligations and restrictions, I was letting the dreamer, the believer, the writer inside of me slip away.
It’s true that life usually throws a lot of bad, painful things at you. But every now and then, it can surprise you. It’s like something out there understands that you are reaching the end of your rope, and just this once, it wants to help you find a way to grip it tighter and climb back up.
Life did that twice for me this week.
Late Thursday night, I was walking home from a beta-reading meeting (speaking of which; Sonya Lano is amazing and everyone should be reading her stories), and it started to rain. Slowly at first, just as the thunder started pounding through the air, and then the rain really kicked in. Pouring down in thick, heavy drops that felt cleansing and pure in the warm summer heat. And then the lightning came.
It’s possible you don’t know this about me; I am addicted to lightning. A Prague summer storm is my favorite kind of weather. I will stand and stare up at the sky until I have seen as many clear flashes of lightning as possible, and it’s nearly impossible to turn away. Thunder and lightning fills me with this wonder, this incredible sensation that there is so much out there that I cannot explain, and I am overwhelmed by the terrible and beautiful power of the storm.
On Thursday, it was exactly what I needed. I walked home in the rain, feeling it soak through my clothes, make my hair cling to my face, and I was practically dancing through it, laughing and cheering whenever lightning flashed above and thunder sang through the streets. Once at home, I stood leaning out my open window and stared at the sky for what felt like an eternity, soaking up that incomparable feeling that only lightning and rain can give me. And when I was finally able to move away, I finished my short story and put it up with the sky still lighting up behind my screen.
Sure, the next day I woke up, went to work and had another absolutely terrible, real-life day, but damn… Soaking up a storm like that, it’s like being cleansed.
But the world wasn’t done throwing magic at me, yet.
Last night I experienced something. One of those things that you’re not even sure really happened, and if one of my best friends in the world hadn’t been there to experience it with me, I probably would have convinced myself it was a wine-induced dream by now. The thing is that it was such an intense and wonderful feeling, and it felt private somehow, so much so that I don’t want to sully it by blogging about the details.
The important thing is the feeling it left us with, so let me just paint the picture as vaguely as I can; we found ourselves on a path in a dark forest on the outskirts of Prague, surrounded by possibly hundreds of flying lights; tiny, glowing creatures surrounding us and fluttering through the trees and across our path. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. We may be two crazy, emotionally high young people with a wine bottle and imagination on our side, but what we were surrounded by felt like nothing short of magic.
It was like something reached through the darkness and decided we had earned to witness something special, something different. The small, flickering lights filled us with childlike wonder and feelings we could barely describe when it was over. It was without a doubt one of those “you had to be there” experiences, but the important thing isn’t so much what happened, but what we took away from it. We could have just kept on with our walk, but instead we paused for a long time, the world slowing down with us, and drank it all in. The things we got out of that, I wouldn’t change for anything.
A sense that all questions we had before were answered, all doubts vanished. Our heats were filled with purpose and joy. It was like these glowing, translucent creatures had come along to show us a kind of truth, and we had only been able to glimpse it through the dark forest and our half-empty wine bottle. We felt more alive then than we had been before. We felt honored, that so many turns and coincidences had allowed us to end up on that path to witness it all, because no one else would have been touched in quite the same way, or taken so much away from of it.
We’d both had the kind of week where everything seemed to go against us. We needed something magical to keep us going, to reignite the flames inside of us that the world was threatening to put out, and we got it.
I’m not saying all my problems have gone away now. I’m not even saying I feel much better about my writing today than I did at work yesterday when everything was going to hell. But… I don’t know, it’s difficult to explain. I feel like I can handle it now. Like those fluttering lights and that powerful storm reminded me where my passion for writing came from in the first place.
This, creating stories and bringing them to the world, is the only thing that I truly want from life. Writing and sharing stories is only ambition; I don’t even expect to be successful at it, I just want to create stories, no matter what. And none of that changes just because of weeks like this one or the one before. I falter sometimes. But the magic in the world reminds me to never completely stop moving forwards.
And to think… there are some people out there who might just have seen bad weather and swarming insects. I am so happy not to be them.
May the world bring you a little magic when you need it the most. Or may you create it yourself.